Welwyn Garden City's postponed centenary events to be 'better than ever'

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WGC masterplanImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Architect Louis de Soissons produced his master plan for Welwyn Garden City in six weeks

Organisers who spent six years planning a garden city's centenary celebrations said they were taking recent challenges due to coronavirus "in our stride".

The Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation planned more than 100 events with the main day this Wednesday.

It was that on date in 1920 that the Welwyn Garden City Limited company was established.

Graeme Bell, from the foundation, said events would be "better than ever" when Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

In 1919, Sir Ebenezer Howard, the garden city movement's founder, bought 590 hectares (1,458 acres) of countryside near Welwyn village for £51,000 at auction for his second project which followed the founding of Letchworth Garden City in 1903 - the first "garden city" and also in Hertfordshire.

Image source, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Image caption,
A sculpture of Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928) who lived and died in the town he created, has been commissioned

Second Garden City Limited was formed in October 1919 to make sure the project was viable and the company decided on the name Welwyn Garden City for the new settlement.

Local historian Angela Eserin said: "Solicitors set up a new bigger company called Welwyn Garden City Limited to build the town, and it was incorporated on 29 April 1920."

Image source, Welwyn Hatfield Museum Service
Image caption,
Ground work began in 1920 and the first houses were built in Handside Lane with the first people moving in during late 1921 and early 1922

Discussions to mark the centenary began in 2014 and some events have already taken place, including lighting up features in the town and the development of a 20km (12.5-mile) centenary walk, but a summer carnival has been postponed until June 2021.

The plan for the 29 April was to have a Founders' Day for descendants of the original founders, including the family of WGC architect Louis de Soissons, with a performance of City of Tomorrow by Glyn Maxwell at the Barn Theatre.

The foundation has also produced a short film.

It said any events which were cancelled this year would run in 2021, with the carnival acting as the finale.

Mr Bell said: "We are not disappointed, rather taking changes in our stride as we plan for the events to be better than ever once restrictions are lifted.

"Welwyn Garden City is a strong community which has only been strengthened over recent weeks which gives even greater cause for celebration."

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